18The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19″Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” 20″We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. 23That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” 24A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” 25He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
I have said it before. I’ll probably say it another 1000 or so times before I die. It’s a simple phrase, really. It is true of everyone who lives and breathes and calls on the Name of the Lord. It’s true of me. It’s true of you. It’s simple: Everyone has a testimony of what the Lord has done for them. This man’s testimony is rather simple: There are some things about Jesus I cannot answer. But this much is true: I was Blind, but now I see! And Jesus made it so.
This is the testimony of this man throughout this episode. He said it again in verse 30, 32, & 15. He just states the rather obvious: I was blind, but now I see. In fact, the entire story revolves around the fact that Jesus opened this man’s eyes. It was Jesus who opened this man’s eyes.
Now here’s what is said elsewhere in Scripture concerning this. Read with me 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:6:
12Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Blindness is not entirely voluntary; our eyes seem to have some help. Still the clear point is that only in Christ will our eyes be opened. Only in Christ will we truly see. This is why so many unbelievers (atheists especially) simply do not understand what the Scripture says or even means. And this is why Christians are so often accused of being mean, uncompassionate, intolerant, and the like.
So what shall we do? Rod Rosenbladt wrote these words in an essay titled Solus Christus in the Scriptures ( http://www.mtio.com/articles/aissar37.htm ).
What is the Bible about? It is about Jesus Christ. Martin Luther, the great Reformer, said that Jesus Christ is the “center and circumference of the Bible,” meaning that its fundamental content is Jesus Christ—who he is and what he did for us in his death and resurrection. To miss him as the center and key to Scripture is to remain in darkness and ignorance.
This is the judgment and punishment which God permits to come upon those who do not see this light, that is, do not accept and believe God’s Word concerning Christ, and then go about steeped in utter darkness and blindness and no longer know anything whatever of matters divine. They now understand no article of Christian teaching: what sin is, what man’s ability is, how one gets rid of sin and becomes righteous, what Law or Gospel is, what faith is, what good works are, what the Christian estates are. And since they do not know Christ, they cannot really know and see a Christian, but must condemn and persecute the true church and Christians, who teach the Word of Christ.
Whoever has not accepted or will not accept perfectly and purely this Man, called Jesus Christ, God’s Son, whom we Christians are preaching, should let the Bible rest in peace. This is my advice. He will certainly take offense and become blinder and madder the longer he studies. (What Luther Says, ed. Ewald Plass [St. Louis: Concordia, 1959], pp. 145-148)
It’s hard, very hard, to disagree with those sentiments. Now, he goes on:
Of course, the Reformers knew that we do not see the centrality of Christ in the Scriptures on the basis of our immediate, intuitive, and inherent rational abilities. The Scriptures tell us that one of the many aspects of the Fall was that our intellects were darkened in respect to any knowledge of our Creator and his will toward us. Any theological or saving “knowing” we have concerning Christ will only be the result of the Father’s gracious initiative. As was the case with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, he must open our eyes to understand the Scriptures. If God does not so act, we will remain trapped in epistemic darkness concerning the Gospel.
One aspect of this darkness is our blindness concerning Christ as the sum and substance of Scripture. We may, if we are well trained in the art of reading a book, grasp the centrality of Christ in the Bible in what the Reformers called “an outward way.” But we will never, on our own, grasp Christ in a truly saving or theological way. The Holy Spirit must use the Gospel in the text to open our eyes to Christ and his work on our behalf.
And so He must! Then what is our responsibility? Christ must be preached from those Scriptures! There is no alternative. What I appreciate about Rosenbladt’s essay is that he decries that sort of preaching that does nothing to expose people to the Christ of Scripture. He writes:
It is also held by people who are the intellectual inheritors of the Enlightenment. Although many might be ignorant of the existence and nature of the “Jefferson Bible,” they treat the Scriptures the same way Thomas Jefferson did—that is, as a collection of moral lessons for wise living. We may think that mistaken idea was confined to eighteenth-century deism or the theological liberalism of the nineteenth century, and that it is not the case for today’s evangelicals. But we must think again. Much of the preaching and curriculum of today’s American evangelical churches is just as Christ less as the teaching of the Enlightenment deists. This is evident in sermons and seminars on such topics as “How to Have a More Intimate Marriage,” “How to Manage Your Money in a God-pleasing Way,” “How to Raise Drug-free Kids” and similar subjects.
That stuff is a meaningless waste of time. And the only preachers who think it is valuable are those preachers whose livelihoods depend upon spewing out such, in my friend Sprocket’s vernacular, insipid garbage (see www.insipidgarbage.wordpress.com ). I think preachers preach that sort of stuff because they cannot handle preaching the Gospel that John MacArthur calls ‘Hard to Believe.’ Or perhaps they can’t handle the job of actually having to think through the Gospel. Or perhaps they don’t believe the Gospel to begin with. But how will people’s eyes be opened to the truth if they know how to manage their money, or raise drug free kids? I’m not saying there is no room for that stuff, I am suggesting that the pulpit is not the place for it. Christians deserve better from their preachers; the Word of God deserves better from its prophets.
I wonder how many of us actually have a testimony? I wonder if Jesus has truly opened the eyes of everyone who claims their eyes are open? There are blind people all over the planet and there may be some indications that the world in general is sick of the church vomiting up such stupidity when what they really want is truth. Eyes will never be opened just because someone knows how to manage their money. They will probably end up managing their money well, but will they end up with treasure in heaven? And just exactly why do preachers exist in the first place? “Ask him. He is of age. He can answer for himself.” Well what will be our answer? What will we say? Will speak of what Jesus has done by his own power? Or will we be content to offer up our take on things?
The church needs to get out of the self-help business, out of the market management business, and out of entrepreneurial investment business. The church, and her preachers in particular, need to get out of the business of treating the Scripture as if it were a book by the Tony Robins or the Dalai Lama or Susie Ormand or Joel Osteen and get back to it being a book by God. The church needs to stop approaching Scripture as if it were merely or even a book about 12 Steps to better anything, a manual for mere self-improvement and get back to it being a book about Jesus Christ. And preachers need to stop treating God’s Word as if it were a playground and start preaching the Holy Scripture as the Revealed Word of Christ. Preachers need to start preaching Jesus Christ. He alone is our testimony.
Soli Deo Gloria!